This Jetta SportWagen TDI is exactly what we should have in our long-term fleet. The DSG transmission is much nicer than our six-speed manual for daily driving, and it's only a 1-mpg penalty at the pump. Being able to bang off a quick, clean 6-4 downshift for passing is a huge advantage over the manual car, although I wish our tester had paddle shifters like a GTI. I instinctively look for those paddles when I'm driving a DSG car and need to make a quick pass. Reaching down to bump over the shifter isn't as natural.
The SportWagen was perfect for my weekend of running errands. I drove all over Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio, and I didn't bother looking at the fuel gauge since I had a full tank when I left the office on Friday. This morning I added about ten gallons of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel at about $2.21 per gallon, so my total fuel cost for 360+ miles of driving was about $22.00. I could live with that, and the SportWagen is certainly on the short list of cars I'd consider owning if I were shopping for a new car today.
I still wish the Jetta offered a little more thrust at highway speeds, but these new emissions laws are making it difficult to do so and keep fuel economy in check. The days of adding an aftermarket computer chip to your diesel vehicle to gain power and fuel economy seem to be over. Pity.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor